This study investigates two high school social science classrooms in order to better understand the pedagogical relationships among teachers, students, and disciplinary content, and how teachers can influence students’ opportunities to learn disciplinary literacy. Drawing on conceptual resources from sociocultural theories of learning and Lampert’s (2001) version of the instructional triangle, this study applies the idea that interpersonal and disciplinary dimensions of learning are intertwined. I collected data using ethnographic methodologies over the course of a school year, including classroom observations, video and audio records, interviews with the teachers and a sample of students, and artifacts from the classrooms, including students work and teacher handouts. The investigation revealed three strategies that the participating teachers deployed in the classrooms I observed to foster pedagogical relationships, including using orienting discourses to position students relative to the content, each other, and the teacher; the design and application of simulated roles that afford students opportunities to recast their pedagogical relationships; and disciplinary scaffolds that aid students in completing the cognitive work of the discipline in the classroom. Furthermore, with both teachers there were instances in which the pedagogical relationships around the strategy were in concert or conflict, resulting in different learning opportunities for the students. This study has implications for teachers, especially of secondary social science, who want to develop disciplinary-oriented communities in their classrooms, and for teacher educators who support their learning. In particular, this study raises questions for teachers to apply to their own practice when designing and implementing instruction
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